What is spirituality? Meaning, Definition & Clear Explanation
What is Spirituality? What exactly is meant by spirituality? When are you spiritual? Spirituality is on the rise, thanks in part to authors such as Eckhart Tolle and the New Age movement. It might seem vague or fuzzy to you, so let’s look at the meaning. Read along!
Definition 1 – The meaning of spirituality according to the dictionary
Let’s take the dictionary as a starting point to learn what spirituality is. The dictionary gives the following brief definition of the concept of spirituality:
Spirituality: 1) Non material existence 2) non material attitude to life.
So, in its broadest sense, spirituality is about activities involving things we cannot grasp.
Definition 2 – Let’s look at the synonyms of spirituality
If we look up synonyms of spirituality, we arrive at the following concepts:
- Immaterial, incorporeal: a striking synonym. When you are spiritual you do not give absolute importance to matter, but you give absolute importance to everything that is non-material, namely virtues such as love, your own soul and the souls of other people.
- Astute: if you are not ‘asleep’, but are spiritually awake, then you are extra alert and sharp. You are ‘on’ and use your senses much better.
Definition 3 – Spirituality is attaching importance to immaterial things
We have already seen this reflected in one of the synonyms of spirituality: another way of seeing the spiritual attitude to life is to attach importance to the detachment and letting go of material, transient things. This allows one to become aware of the things that are absolutely important: virtues and the soul.
Definition 4 – Spirituality is Contributing to the World (Gregory Bateson)
We have covered the dictionary definitions. Now let’s move on to a concrete model that can explain spirituality. For this we look at the model of anthropologist Gregory Bateson.
His model looks at, among other things: ‘what is your mission?’ In a sense your (life) mission is something spiritual. This article on Bateson’s model – called “The Logical Levels” – takes a closer look at contributing to the world as a definition of spirituality.
Definition 5 – Spirituality is seeing this world as a school for the next world
It is a spiritual attitude to life to see this life as a school in preparation for the hereafter, in which good qualities such as love, helpfulness, beauty, detachment and gratitude should be developed.
Definition 6 – Spirituality is having psychic abilities: making use of your intuition
Unfortunately, this definition of spirituality is mistakenly seen as the kind of spirituality that Aunt Truus is interested in (the Astro-TV audience). Having psychic abilities is one of the most powerful definitions of spirituality: using your sixth sense to live your life based on your feelings – not your five senses.
In a sense, anyone can take advantage of these psychic abilities simply by practicing listening to the sixth sense (intuition).
In recent decades, more and more people have been born who naturally have a better developed sixth sense. You can also recognize these so-called ‘old souls’. Read the article about new age children.
Definition 7 – Spirituality is grasping the essence of religion, rather than the surface
When you experience religion in a superficial way, then:
- Are you susceptible to dogma.
- Believe in literal interpretations of metaphors, imagery and parables in holy scriptures.
- Feel identified with your religion, like it’s a football club you are a fan of.
- Think of your religion as something serious.
When you find the essence of religion then:
- Do you have respect and acceptance for all religions: accept that there are multiple spiritual paths that are essentially the same, but in a different context and era.
- Don’t judge.
- Do you feel the oneness of your soul with all souls. From that point you experience religion as a spiritual tool, and not as something that is part of your identity.
- You pray and meditate out of joy, because you see that the universe is out for joy.
Unfortunately , for the majority of people, religion is experienced in the superficial way, which creates conflict. Somehow politics and TV seem to support this. When religious people are speaking on TV, they always seem to give the ego free rein through the identification mode (‘Your religion is part of your identity so you should be proud of it’) or defense mode (‘ We are disadvantaged by them ‘ ).
Spirituality is not: being a member of a religion as if you were a member of a football club.
Definition 8 – Spirituality is feeling non-duality (this is achieved through meditation)
Non-duality, what is that? Non-dual, so non-two. This means that everything is the same in some way: unity . You can read exactly how that works in the article about non-duality. You can experience this sense of unity through meditation .
– Everything is love.
– Akkes is one, so everything is the same.
– Everything is interconnected.
– Everything is perfect.
Definition 9 – Spirituality is connection with the soul and Source (‘God’) without religion: New Age
The ‘New Age’ movement, or ‘The New Spirituality’ has made people embrace spirituality without the addition of organized religion. The meaning of spirituality lies in connecting yourself with your own soul and with the Source.
The names ‘Source’, ‘Universe’ or ‘Infinity’ are used instead of ‘God’, because the word God is seen by religious people through a literal interpretation as a man with a beard on a cloud.
More definitions of spirituality
There are also several ways to describe spiritual awakening. This is attempted in this article on spiritual awakening.
How can you develop spirituality?
You can develop spirituality all by yourself and you can easily learn it together through a course for spiritual development.
- Read a holy book from one of the world’s religions. However, this is very tough, because the books are full of irrelevant rules of living (for example, there are entire chapters about how to make a sacrifice) and because there are a lot of imagery , metaphors and parables that should not be taken literally.
- Start meditating. Inner peace, concentration, alertness and relaxation is one of the greatest parts of spirituality. By stopping your thoughts, you can detach yourself from earthly activities. This allows you to put those earthly activities and challenges into perspective in the most powerful way. You are going to see the bigger picture and you are going to see the hide and seek game that your ‘real me’ (your soul) is playing in this life.
- Practice your virtues. After you have meditated, you will find that your Divine virtues have been strengthened. You have stronger feelings of love, helpfulness and respect, for example. You can now give these virtues to the world by stepping back into daily life.
- Listen to your intuition. In other words: listen to your feelings. This is explained in detail in the article about training your intuition.
- Do not fall into dogma, but keep asking, developing and thinking. After discovering something about spirituality, you will still remain as humble and curious as ever. This is the ideal state of mind to keep learning. And keep your intuition open so that you can respond to new experiences.
How can you recognize spiritual people?
What is a spiritual person? Am I spiritual? Use this description to test whether you yourself are spiritual.
- Let’s start with looks: you have a sparkle in your eyes, you stand out because light seems to come out of your skin, you have a kind of constant smile on your face and people are attracted to you. Logical, because through meditation you adopt a part of the properties of the Source, such as love, beauty, etc.
- You don’t judge. This means, among other things, that you do not confuse your own reactions with the reactions of other people.
- You know how to process emotions without identifying yourself with them, by being fully present with your feelings and by allowing them completely. You see them as an opportunity to grow.
- You no longer please people at the expense of your own dreams and aspirations. You are no longer addicted to other people’s approval anyway. Think of Facebook likes or compliments from others,
- You are no longer guided by fear. And fear = ego.
- You focus on the positive things in life. This can even go so far (and there’s nothing wrong with that) that you act like you already have what you want to wear! With this you do not focus on shortages or scarcity, but on ‘enough for everyone’ and ‘everyone will succeed.’ This is the law of attraction. You will no longer try to forcefully turn the negative into something positive, but you will focus on what is already positive, so that the rest of you will be fine. Trust is needed for that.
- You always do your best, and for that you also have the life energy that you have obtained with meditation and the accompanying joy of life that has been released.
- You are gentle with yourself and others, including your inner critic.
- You develop your virtues such as service, love, respect and gratitude.
Does spirituality exist?
Science has been catching up in recent decades and is increasingly recognizing that there is more than we can perceive with our five senses. Think of the brain scans that prove the evidence of meditation , the studies on the effect of mindfulness on stress and depression (which has allowed the well-known 8-week mindfulness curriculum to gain popularity) and the developments in quantum physics.
More spiritual insights and quotes
- Do you want to read more insights, quotes and articles about living a spiritual life? Then take a look at all my articles on spirituality.
- Jeff Foster’s books contain spiritual poems that touch everyone because they are written in the simplest language while reading incredibly fluently.
- Check out the top 10 list of spiritual books.
- Also view the interview below. From minute 25 it will address the question ‘What is spirituality’, but the whole interview is worthwhile anyway.
What is spirituality to you?
Finally, let’s turn it into a dialogue. Please comment in the comments what spirituality means to you.